“Here and Gone” by Haylen Beck

I got the opportunity to read Haylen Beck’s thriller, “Here and Gone” which will be published by Penguin Random House shortly, thanks to NetGalley. If you are looking for a fast paced story which keeps you hooked, this one is for you. The story is about Audra Kinney, who in her 30’s is fleeing a broken marriage with a rich New Yorker who is abusive apart from being a total Mamma’s boy. They have two children, a boy Sean, aged 11 and a girl Louise, aged 6. While her divorce case drags on, Audra can no longer take the abuse and the toxic atmosphere at home. She decides to flee even before the courts decide on who gets custody of her children. She cannot bear the thought of her children being given in the custody of her husband and mother-in-law. 

A call to her friend in far away San Diego, on the other side of the United States pushes Audra to take the plunge. She makes a momentous decision. She would leave-now! Everything goes off well till she reaches Arizona and is within touching distance of San Diego. Some warm food and a good night’s sleep at a motel would help her reach their destination the next day. When she stops at a motel, she sees a police officer viewing her suspiciously. Fearing that her rich husband has alerted the cops about her disappearance with the kids, she hits the road only to be followed by the cop in the patrol car. He signals her to a halt and she discovers he is the local sheriff of that small town. The town may be small but this guy is the local law there.

He searches her car and ” finds” a stash of drugs. Audra frantically pleads that she is innocent but the cop and his deputy arrest her and take the kids away. She is not scared for her self but worried to death about her children. She is assured they are safe but a nagging worry tells her something is terribly amiss.

Her instincts are right because the rogue cop and his deputy are front men for a child kidnap racket which supplies children to pedophiles and the like. For big bucks, these hick cops are willing to sacrifice these innocent children. The gang behind the racket is extremely powerful.

No one is prepared to believe Audra’s desperate pleas that she is innocent and that the cops have framed her. They simple deny that any children were with Audra at the time of her arrest. As simple as that! It is her word, with her somewhat guilt-ridden dubious past, against that of the local law officers in that small town.

Fortunately for Audra, Danny Lee a Chinese-American tough guy in San Francisco, who has been through a similar experience some years ago when his wife was found killed and his daughter kidnapped stumbles upon her case and decides to help her. The chips are down for Audra.

Maintaining a brisk pace throughout, the author takes us through the chase to reach an interesting climax.

Highly recommended if you like thrillers.

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